By Sarah Lozanova, Freelance Copywriter
As electric vehicle (EV) ownership increases and becomes more mainstream, some car shoppers still have their doubts about switching away from vehicles with an internal combustion engine. Although the price of EVs has dropped, the EV tax credits continue, and the range has increased, many consumers are hesitant to own one. Car shoppers have a variety of concerns about taking the plunge, with many centered around relying on batteries and EV infrastructure.
Three main worries are the lack of public EV charging options, a short driving range, and the need to potentially replace the EV battery. Also, people who live in multifamily buildings or lack a dedicated parking spot may have issues charging at home. In addition, lack of knowledge about EVs continues to be a hurdle to widespread adoption. In particular, consumers need more information about EV batteries and specifically how long they last.
Battery technology has rapidly advanced in the last decade, and many car shoppers hold onto outdated or inaccurate information on the topic. Therefore, it is critical for EV professionals to educate consumers and help dispel myths.
How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Typically Last?
While lead-acid car batteries last about 3 – 5 years, EV battery lifespan is much longer. Typically, today’s EV batteries last 10 – 20 years. Many car manufacturers offer an 8 – 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty on EV batteries, which can help ease consumer concerns about battery longevity.
Advances in lithium-ion battery technology has allowed vehicle range to also increase due to greater energy density. Now, numerous EVs on the market have ranges over 300 miles on a full charge, including the BMW i4, Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 Long Range AWD, and Tesla Model 3 Long Range. Other models have moderate ranges, such as the Chevy Bolt at 259 miles Some automakers have models with much smaller ranges, like the Nissan Leaf with a range of up to 149 miles.
Some EVs even have bidirectional charging abilities. This means that energy from the EV battery can power other loads. With this application, an EV can help power a home, business, the power grid, another EV, or specific loads. However, when an EV battery supplies power for other uses, it may reduce its driving range.
Factors That Impact EV Battery Life
Numerous factors impact battery life, but only some are easily within the control of EV drivers. The level of battery degradation greatly impacts its ability to hold a charge. Eventually, EV drivers will want to replace batteries. Although degradation is inevitable, there are steps drivers can take to slow it down a bit, extending the useful life of the battery.
Maintain Certain Charging Levels
Many EV professionals recommend keeping the battery charged between 20% and 80%. It can put strain on the battery when it is completely discharged or fully charged, which slowly reduces its capacity over time. Although charging to 100% enables the vehicle to travel farther, it isn’t recommended for optimum battery life.
Avoid Storing The EV At 100% State Of Charge
If an EV needs to sit for a long time between uses, its best for the battery to not be fully charged or discharged. Thus, a state of charge between 25% and 75% is ideal. Also, smart charging stations can end charging at a certain level, helping drivers achieve the desired level of charge.
Avoid Regularly Using DC Fast Charging Stations
There is some concern in the EV industry about the habitual use of DC Fast Chargers (DCFC), also known as Level III chargers. Habitual rapid charging can cause a minor decline in battery capacity compared to Level II chargers. If possible, drivers should use DCFC chargers sparingly.
Monitor Exposure To Extreme Temperatures
EV batteries can have a shorter lifespan in warmer climates. Extremely warm temperatures while driving, charging, and parking can strain EV batteries, shortening its lifespan. Whenever possible, EV drivers should park in the shade on warm days.
FAQs About EV Battery Life
Many potential EV drivers have questions about battery banks because they are paramount when considering the cost of ownership and the driver experience.
How Does Electric Car Battery Life Compare To An Internal Combustion Engine (Traditional Gas Engine)?
The batteries in gas-powered cars usually last only about 3 – 5 years, although it depends somewhat on use patterns. However, these lead-acid car batteries cost dramatically less and are easier to recycle than lithium-ion EV batteries. In contrast, EV lithium-ion batteries can last 10 – 20 years, and typically are covered under a manufacturer’s warranty for a certain number of years or miles.
Strict laws in many states result in nearly 100% of lead-acid batteries getting recycled. This is good news for the environment because it helps reduce the need for extracting virgin raw materials.
Do EV Batteries Come With Manufacturer Warranties?
Most car manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Ford, Toyota, Renault, and Chevy, offer an 8 – 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty on electric car batteries. But, warranties vary a bit by the automaker.
For example, Tesla offers an 8-year or 120,000 miles (whichever happens first) warranty on batteries, with a minimum of 70% battery retention over the warranty period. Rivian offers an 8-year or 175,000-mile battery warranty at 70% retention.
Are EV Batteries Easy to Recycle at the End of Life?
Unfortunately, lithium-ion electric vehicle battery packs were not well designed with recyclability in mind and are difficult to recycle. It’s challenging and costly to extract valuable materials from these batteries.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace An EV Battery?
Consumer concerns about EV battery replacement costs are justified considering it is the most expensive component. The replacement cost of an EV battery may be as little as $5,000 but can be as much as $15,000 for some models. The battery cost is largely reliant on its storage capacity, so larger batteries have a higher price.
The cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) of battery storage has fallen dramatically in recent years from $1,160 in 2010 to $128 in 2022. However, prices are expected to stabilize at $90 per kWh by 2031. Falling battery costs are very good news for EV drivers and can make EV ownership more appealing.
Although battery technology has advanced and production capacity has increased, excessive demand for EV batteries could cause prices to spike if supply runs short. For that reason, the CEO of Ford, Jim Farley, and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, are urging the mining industry to extract more raw materials for batteries to prepare for a surge in battery demand.
Are EVs Cheaper to Maintain Than Gas-Powered Cars?
The good news is that the cost of EV ownership is usually considerably less than for traditional gas-powered cars because they have fewer parts, require less maintenance, and it is cheaper to charge a battery than fill a gas tank.
For example, EVs have fewer fluids and moving parts, and regenerative braking causes the brake pads to wear out more slowly. These differences are particularly pronounced as vehicles age and would otherwise need more regular maintenance and costly repairs if they didn’t have electric motors.
Additional articles about electric vehicles by Sarah Lozanova:
Understand the Tax Credits Before you Buy a New EV
A Complete Guide: Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Levels, Explained
How Far Can Electric Vehicles Go?
Sarah Lozanova is a renewable energy copywriter and solar marketing specialist that uses digital marketing campaigns to drive results. She has an ability to gain media attention, boost website traffic, and engage interest on social media platforms. Lozanova connects solar energy companies to their target markets, by raising visibility, then hooking and engaging readers to request more information or take next steps.
Her renewable energy writer experience includes residential and commercial solar energy, battery energy storage systems, electric vehicles, and utility-scale wind energy, and she is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living. Sarah Lozanova holds an MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School and resides in Midcoast Maine.